The new Breastcancer.org thinks beyond pink

Organizations like Susan G. Komen have transformed breast cancer diagnosis into a global movement. In October, breast cancer awareness month, pink will once again conquer the world in cross-brand partnerships to advance breast cancer awareness.

But the much smaller Breastcancer.org is not an awareness organization. Founded more than 20 years ago by an oncologist and used by nearly 200 million people since then, the nonprofit was built to guide one through the realities of coping with cancer. The site was relaunched this week, as part of a four-year redesign led by digital agency Work & Co. Previously it was a page with a business feel. full of links to news and resources, with the identity teased by lots of pink highlights. Now you might be surprised to see a few muted pastels and a massive amount of white space — along with no overt donate button, newsletter popup, or other self-promotional components.

[Image: courtesy Work & Co]“There is definitely a brand differentiation component to it. Not just Komen, but all breast cancer advocacy really leans on pink to raise awareness,” said Lisa Kline, CMO of Breastcancer.org. “Our roots were not awareness, but knowledge . . . we wanted to lean in a different direction. ”

[Image: courtesy Work & Co]Instead, Breastcancer.org is designed not to make you feel like a tribe, but to feel inclusive to everyone confronted with breast cancer – whether that be as a patient, a friend or family member. To get there, it had to be made sure that men, who can also get breast cancer, feel just as welcome as women. (Although colors have no gender, pink still carries a social stigma for some men.) While many nonprofit sources are full of generically produced stock photography, Work & Co used a minimal amount of photography so that everyone can see themselves on the site. – regardless of their identity.

“When users first start using it, a lot of them are just getting diagnosed. They’ve had that moment when they were just diagnosed with the doctor…they heard the diagnosis, but [the doctor] Didn’t explain anything,” said Lauren Shapiro, group director of Design Work & Co. “Maybe they get in the car, it hurts them that they were diagnosed, and breast cancer.org is that resource where they end up.”

[Image: courtesy Work & Co]The site was designed around this first moment of shock and confusion. When you first arrive, you can choose an archetype of who you are — whether that’s someone who’s just been diagnosed, or someone more circumstantial, such as a caregiver. Whichever you choose, you’ll be taken to a page with more information and resources about the forecast in plain language. This approach is refreshingly old-fashioned when it comes to website design, down to the fact that these pages can read like very long FAQs, requiring a lot of scrolling to get to the bottom.

“The pages are a bit long compared to traditional, compact everything and simplify it Shapiro says. “But we heard loud and clear from users that information is empowering. We don’t want people to miss it, so our pages are longer.”

[Image: courtesy Work & Co]The white space, combined with typing spacing, is designed to be legible — which is especially important for the aging population and those on chemo who may develop vision problems during treatment. These pages are also interspersed with podcasts and some videos that you can play right on the site and don’t need to read at all. These different styles of content aren’t just about some ‘pivot to video’ strategy; they are meant to provide the best possible service to someone dealing with cancer, however they may be feeling that day. And in particular, clicking on a piece of content does not lead you away from the site. It is important information, presented as calmly and predictably as possible.

In the near future, Breastcancer.org plans to be more attuned to what you see based on your diagnosis and treatment. Today, the site asks if you want to create a profile, although they don’t dare to ask like many sites and apps do, because the organization wants to serve people the best during those terrifying first moments of diagnosis. (I never came across this question from the site itself, although I did find the option to create an account deep within one page.)

[Image: courtesy Work & Co]But assuming you do create an account, you can actually enter your diagnosis and treatment data. Using this data, Breastcancer.org will show you only the most useful stories – which is both a practical and emotional concern. The backend of the site is made in such a way that the content can be personalized.

“If you were diagnosed young and you may be working on things like fertility preservation, we want to be able to give you that information. On the other hand, we don’t want to talk to someone in their 70s about fertility preservation,” Kline says. “We also don’t want to scare someone with early-stage breast cancer by seeing content for metastatic (late-stage cancer) or end-of-life problems.”

Ultimately, Breastcancer.org hopes to go even further and allow you to import your own medical card into this system. By referencing your specific health data, it can annotate your treatment with even more specific and specialized content, such as references to new experimental studies that may not involve your hospital.

“You get a whole load of health information, including notes from doctors about treatment, but what am I supposed to do with all this information?” says Klijn. “It’s powerful when you know what to do with it.”


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